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Galvan, Luke

When it comes to advertising, the days of simply showing your product and price are over. Today, Marketing and Advertisement are billion dollar industries, with an array of outlets and techniques at their disposal to sell a companies’ product. According to the Shaw and Berry book, General Motors and Proctor and Gamble spent $3.2 and $4.9 billion on advertising last year alone. However, even with the need for Marketing and advertising still growing, the profession receives very little acceptance by the American culture. The advertising industry is seen by most to be deceptive and Sneaky. With companies using psychological appeals; such as sex, success, or social acceptance, many believe no products are being advertised. Instead, many believe that these companies are projecting their consumers’ inner most desires onto their product, and tricking them into believing their product will turn their desires into realities. As a result pressure is placed on FTC to place restrictions on how much information marketing companies can gather about their target consumers. Most recently, online tracking companies have been in the spotlight and are likely to forced into changing the ways in which they obtain research. 

In an article published in the Wall Street Journal titled, “Covering Up Online Footprints” the new idea of a ‘Do-not-track’ tool being installed in web browsers is discussed. The internet has an abundant supply of information about the likes, dislike, habits, and interests of everyday people. This information is very valuable to marketing companies whose goal is to figure out what people want. As a result for this growing need for this information, online tracking companies arose. One of the main on-line tracking companies is Lotame solutions Inc. What Lotame does is tracks the activity that occurs on the internet, it can track what sites people are going to, how long they are staying on those sites, what they are buying online, how often they are browsing a companies catalog, ect.. They then compile this information and sell it to marketing teams who are creating advertisements that reflect what people are showing interest in online. The names and identities of the people being tracked are never seen, instead everyone is lumped into a market segment whether that segment is determined by the online users age, region of residence, sex, or other variables, is decided by the marketing firm buying the information. This information may also be by companies trying to create a new product or improve an old product around their consumer’s wants and interests.

A ‘Do-not-track’ tool would be a tool that would allow online users to block their activity from online companies like Lotame. Mozilla Firefox had reportedly developed a new and powerful ‘do-not-track’ tool months ago, but decided to scrap it. It was reported that this was due to pressure from advertisement companies, but those allegations were denied by Mozilla. The other three most popular browsers have admitted to having pressure from advertisement companies not to create ‘Do-not-track’ tools. However, many online companies have accepted this ‘Do-not-track’ tools as a future restraint that the industry is going to have to deal with and have begun develop ways that online users can opt out of having their activity viewed. On a website called privacychoice.org former ad executive, Jim Brock, has compiled at list of 274 online tracking companies, of those companies 171 offer an opt out option. Although these companies are making an effort, the effectiveness of the opt outs has been called into question. What was discovered earlier this year is the technology to have web browsers implement code that would send a message to websites letting them know which computers they can and can’t track, this regulation would be modeled after the Do not call registry. However, to implement this system would require tracking companies to agree to honor the user’s request, and browser companies to allow the code in their system. Both are waiting for more details before agreeing to anything.